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Andrew Henderson / The National
Andrew Henderson / The National

Expatriate games

Why certain skills enable some expat workers to earn more money than others.

Dear Ali: Why are there variations in the salaries given to the different expat nationalities in the UAE? RD, Annaba, Algeria Dear RD: Your question cuts to the heart of one of the great misconceptions about the UAE and the Gulf region. Locals stereotype expats according to their nationality. Let's take Filipinos, for example. We see many Filipinos working as cashiers or as service workers. But that doesn't mean those jobs aren't open to anyone else. It just means that because of their skills - English fluency, money handling and a great sense of organising - they happen to be good at these jobs. They are not good at those jobs because they are Filipino, but rather, because of their training. In our hospitals, you will find that most of the nurses are Filipino. A nurse's salary is much higher than a cashier's or a maid's. When you buy flowers, who do you usually buy them from? Filipinos. How about when you get an item gift-wrapped? Again, Filipinos. That doesn't mean an Arab couldn't sell flowers or become a good nurse, it's just that the Filipinos have good skills in these areas.

Many of our Pakistani expats drive taxis or lorries. Some might not make as much money as a Filipino office manager or nurse, but they probably don't have the same skills. You should also keep in mind the salaries available in their home country. Dh2,000 or Dh3,000 a month might not seem much, but it is good money compared with what they would make in Pakistan. Our government provides more than one million jobs for expats, and most of the money is sent back home to provide for their families. I'm not saying it's perfect, but it benefits both parties.

Locals don't see Indians or Pakistanis as poor. We also understand that these countries have more well-trained and expert workers than we do. That's why we bring so many doctors and engineers to the UAE. Doctors are compensated according to their expertise, so an Indian doctor would be paid the same as an equally qualified westerner. I'm aware there are often differences in salary packages for an Indian executive and a British executive. I think these have more to do with geography. Bringing your family over from India is usually cheaper than flying your family from the UK, and British schools tend to be more expensive than Indian schools.

I appreciate our Indian driver, and our Indian family doctor. And I appreciate my personal Indian PRO and my great office boy and accountant, who are all from India. All earned their employment based on their good work, and this is reflected in their pay. Dear Ali: I teach grades 1 and 2 in a boys' primary school in Al Ain and I'm trying to think of fun activities to keep them excited about learning. Did you have any favourite games as a child? DD, Al Ain

Hi DD: My time in school was so different from now. Children these days come to school with cellphones and BlackBerries, so hi-tech games should hold their attention, if your school has a computer lab. Soccer is huge in this country, but I think you could also inspire them to act out the lives of the heroes of our folklore. Instead of Superman or Spider-Man, have them play the Poet of Arabia or Ibn Majid the Sea Lion, and let them get aquainted with these Arab heroes and role models. Also, check out the activities at the National Theatre Building. The Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage puts on painting and craft workshops for children, while Al Ain zoo offers great educational tours.

Arabic: Etrayani English: Wait for me The word Etrayani (m) is usually used in Emirati dialect to mean "wait for me". For females, the last 'a' would turn into an 'e' and become Etrayeni. Example: "I'm leaving." "Etrayeni, Helen." "Fine, just hurry up." If you are referring to a group, then it's Etrayuni. As in, "Guys, hang on, Etrayuni." ("Wait for me, please.") Note also the pronunciation: Etrayyooooni.


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